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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

CHAPTER  IV

THE DARK AGES

i. THE SCHOOL AS ADJUNCT OF THE CHURCH

THE destruction of the Roman Empire by the northern barbarians
in the Fifth Century of our era threatened to make a complete
end of the culture which had flourished in the Mediterranean
lands during the previous millennium* The municipal schools
of grammar and rhetoric which had been vigorously at work
throughout the Empire but a century before vanished almost
entirely in the course of a generation or two, and with the dis-
appearance of their teachers a dense cloud of ignorance settled
over the greater part of Europe, Happily for the future of the
world the victory of the barbarians was not complete. In con-
quering Rome, they themselves came under the sway of the
Christian Church; and under the protecting care of a religious
faith that had retained its vitality in an age of disintegration,
sufficient of the ancient civilization was preserved to keep learning
in feeble life till the new-comers had grown able to appropriate
some of the knowledge of the past and to advance beyond it in
accordance with their own genius.

The Church, it is true, did not step immediately into the
place of the municipality and the State as the provider and
director of education. The desire for education of any kind
had largely died out even among the peoples who had once held
culture in esteem, and the Church as a whole shared in the
general indifference. The old literary and rhetorical education
had been pagan in spirit, and the profound distrust it inspired
in a considerable section of the Christian community still lingered.
Nevertheless, it was not long before the Church was compelled
by force of circumstances to concern itself with education and
out of its cultural needs there ultimately grew a system of schools
which by the end of the Dark Ages was almost as complete and
as comprehensive as that which had passed away with the Roman
Empire,

To understand the character of these schools, it must be

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